Wilton Place will soon look and feel a lot different when nine single-family homes along the western side of the 500 North block of Wilton Place will be razed to make way for a five-story apartment building from developer Frost/Chaddock.
The vintage bungalows, mostly dating from the 1920s and not protected under a neighborhood HPOZ, were sold from mid to late 2014 for between $650-$1 million a piece. Realtor Pete Buonocore of Keller Williams Larchmont brokered the deal. One of the homes sold to Frost/Chaddock was owned by David Ryu, the recently elected Councilmember for CD4, the district where the home is located. Ryu, who ran as an anti-development candidate, was denounced by some during the campaign of being too cozy with developers due to this deal selling his home, as reported in an LA Times article in early April.
The new development, temporarily called “525 N Wilton Place” will encompass 88 apartments: 44 one-bedroom and 44 two-bedroom units, a ground floor lobby and leasing office, gym and pool space and a recreation room. The development spans the entire block from Clinton on the north to Maplewood on the south. The area was up-zoned in the 1980’s to R3-1 zoning, allowing for densification in the area through multi-family housing. Eight of the apartments will be designated “very low income units.”
In its application to City Planning, the developer describes the 97,145 square feet of project as having “four residential wings designed to appear as separate structures to minimize the building frontage and façade massing with material and color changes used to accent various building elements so that the scale will fit in with the surrounding neighborhood.” The four buildings will be connected by bridges and covered walkways, and flanked by open green space and courtyards.
The design, by architect John G. Reed, is clean/modern with many windows and large balconies, and broad swaths of colored stucco. Due to a slight slope, the building will rise to 56′ on the southern end and be 45′ tall on the north end. One and a half levels of parking below the building will accomodate 142 parking cars, which will enter from two driveways, one on Maplewood and the other on Clinton. Frost/Chaddock calls itself a “premier developer of luxurious rental, retail and mixed-use properties in Los Angeles.” It built the M Lofts development on in Palms, and three mixed-use developments now planned for Silver Lake near Sunset Junction.
“This is a substantial development on an overstressed secondary street,” Charles D’Atri, President of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association told the Larchmont Buzz in a phone interview. “There is little in the Larchmont Village area that is this large. This is an ambitious developer who likes to build big and sees an opportunity to make a lot of money.”
D’Atri told the Larchmont Buzz that he was frustrated that the developer didn’t come to the community until they had their preliminary plans and drawings already in hand. “These guys knew there was an active neighborhood association in place. They also know from experience that they should be in touch with the local community. They never approached the neighborhood association until they had their application put together.”
Jake LaJoie, Director of Aquisitions for Frost/Chaddock, didn’t think that was the case. “As soon as we had the nine lots sewn up we talked to Renee Weitzer in the CD4 office,” LaJoie told the Larchmont Buzz. “She told us it’s all about the architecture, landscaping and parking. We feel we’ve put our best foot forward here in addressing all those issues. We are not building as dense as we could have, we are providing more than the required parking, and have designed it to allow for lots of green space and significant setback on all three streets. I’m sorry if we’ve offended anyone – we really are trying to do the right thing here.”
D’Atri is also concerned that the entrances to the parking garage are only from Maplewood Ave and Clinton Streets and will send more traffic into the quiet, crowded streets of the Larchmont Village neighborhood behind the project.
“They have done some things to address the massing,” D’Atri said. “But it is not exceptional, and certainly not contextual to the neighborhood.”
The developer presented the plans before the Land Use Committee of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council last month. The committee voted 11-4 to request that developer return to the LUC and/or the GWNC Board with their design responses to the committee’s concerns about street parking, landscaping, height and overall design.